Monday, March 03, 2008

An Epic Collapse

Clemson 73, Maryland 70

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Nope, someone already used that opening line. I could just direct everyone to my recap after the Wake Forest football collapse this past Fall and just be done with it. No, this is the basketball version of that collapse and I must vent.

The Maryland Terrapins had a 20 point lead at home against Clemson. It was Senior Day, the crowd was fired up. There were eleven minutes left in the game. They were dominating. They lost. Clemson roared back to a 73-70 win after Terrence Oglesby hit a three pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining. Game over. The Terps are now 18-12 (8-7 in the ACC) and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament seems unlikely with just an away game at Virginia and the ACC tournament left.

This was worse than the famous Gone in :54 game vs Duke in January 2001 where the Terps blew a ten point lead at Cole Field House. Back then though, they rebounded and made it to the Final Four, where they collapsed again against Duke (blowing a 22 point first half lead then). That 2001 Final Four loss was the worst and the most painful Terp game moment for me. However, that collapse was used as a great motivator to the national title in 2002.

This loss to Clemson was inexcusable. Don't get me wrong, they are not a bad team at all. They are in third place in the ACC but you're up 20 at home, its senior day and you're playing for your post season. It was just sad watching it all unravel. They had that game won. They had their post season ticket to the NCAA tourney pretty much sealed up. But no.

Win at UVA and win a couple of ACC tourney games? Maybe that gets them in but the last time they won back to back games in the ACC tournament was 2004 when they won it all. Strange things happen in March though. Ask Michigan State, UNC, Wichita State and Connecticut about George Mason in 2006. Gather up some Georgetown alum and ask them about the 1985 Villanova Wildcats. I'm sure Houston Cougar fans cringe at the mention of Lorenzo Charles and that 1983 North Carolina State team.

Since this season has been and up and down like a yo-yo(Losses at home to American and Ohio, wins on the road against #1 North Carolina and Wake Forest), now part of me thinks the Terps will rebound and make it and another part of me thinks they will be in Fairfax VA facing George Mason in first round NIT action. And yes, if that happens I will be there. It's in my back yard, I support the athletes with my membership in the Terrapin Club and this Terp lifer can't turn my back on these guys.

Gary Williams said after the game that he'll remember the 73-70 loss to the Tigers for a long time, just as he'll remember the big wins. Us fans will too Gary. But there is still time to get it right and make the NCAA's. You know what you have to do. Can they rebound? I think so as they have a week to prepare. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not giving up until the last bracket is read on Selection Sunday. If we're not in, I'll support them in the NIT. I won't like it, but I'll support them. That's what fans do. I'm critical of certain players and coaching decisions but they're certainly not trying to lose just to make our lives miserable.